What is a “cashback” website?
A cashback website is a type of reward website that shares a part of the commission they make from online stores through affiliate programs with its members when they purchase goods and services via its affiliate links. For example, If you buy a laptop from dell.ca by first going through a cashback website such as Ebates and buying through their link you would receive a part of the commission that they earn. So, if you bought a laptop for $500 using the link provided by Ebates you would receive 1.5% cash back ($500 x 1.5% = $7.50) which they would pay you either by check or into your paypal account. The amount of “cashback” you receive depends on how much of a rebate the online store is offering. Some stores may offer 1% cash back while others offer 50% or more. The average cash back is 1%-4%. This can save you a lot of money come Christmas time when you’re spending huge amounts of money. For some stores you can even get “cashback” on gift cards. So, even if you wanted to buy something in store, you can buy the gift card with cash back. The cashback sites may also list money-off coupons you can use to get further discounts on top of your cashback rebate. They are free to join and some even offer you a small amount of money to join. Why? Because you can potentially make them more money if you use them when you are shopping. The business model is simple: cashback sites get a commission for referring you over to online stores, and pay you a part of that commission. It’s win-win.
Is it safe?
Yes it is safe. Thousands of well-known online stores such as The Source, Chapters, Walmart, Newegg, Orbitz, Apple and dell participate in cashback via these sites.
The cashback sites do not get access to your credit card or payment information from the online stores. They simply get notified of the amount you purchased and the commission they earn (which in turn they give a portion of that to you). I have used these sites before and I have never had a problem.
How do I actually get paid? How often?
Cashback sites will generally pay you monthly, quarterly or upon request. Some cashback sites have a minimum payment threshold you must meet in order to get paid, while others do not. The payment threshold for these sites is typically $5-$25. Most cashback sites send you a check in the mail or send payments to your paypal account. Some sites have a higher payment threshold if you request to be paid by cheque, this is why I personally choose to be paid via paypal.
- If you want to receive cashback, first go through the cashback website first and then click on the retailer link from there. Do not go to the retailer link directly, or you will not get cashback. For example, if you go directly to dell.ca you would not get cashback on your purchase. You must first go through a cashback site such as Ebates and then go to dell.ca through their link to be able to get cashback. The cashback will not show immediately in your shopping cart or in your receipt, you will receive an email 2-3 days after your transaction from the cashback site confirming the amount of cashback you received for your purchase.
- There is typically a time-limit by which you should complete your purchase to earn cash back after you have gone through the cashback site to the online store . It is generally a sufficient amount of time to browse and complete your transaction with time to spare. However it’s best to use the cashback site after you have a pretty good idea of what to buy so you can complete the transaction quickly.
- If you click away from the online store (perhaps to do more research on the product) after visiting the online store via the cashback site, you may not get cashback on that transaction. If this happens close all your windows and go back to the cashback site, click through to the online store again, and start your shopping again. This shouldn’t be the case, but do this just to be sure.
- Your browser will typically need to have cookies enabled for you to earn cashback. The way that the online stores can track how you came onto their site is by tracking the cookies from the link you clicked on from the cashback site. This is the same as how any affiliate link may work. Cookies are usually enabled as the default in most browsers and operating systems, so unless you changed that setting, you should be fine.
- If you are making a big purchase it is best to check which cashback site offers the highest “cashback” for the store you intend to shop at.
- Limit the amount of cashback sites you use. The reason for this is that some of these sites require you to reach a threshold before they pay you. For example MrRebates requires you to reach $10 before they will pay you (but they give you $5 to start with).
- Stick with the “cashback” site that is affiliated with the stores you most frequently shop at. This way you can reach the payment threshold on one site much faster than not reaching the payment threshold on any. Of course, if you make a big purchase you might hit the payment threshold in one purchase. In this case, go with the site that gives the highest “cashback”.
Now here’s is my list of the best cashback sites for Canada:
There are multiple reasons why I have chosen Ebates as the best cashback site. For, one they offer online rebates and coupons at over 1,200 stores, not only in Canada but also in the US. If you are going to choose one cashback site and stick with it, it’s a good idea to choose one that has the stores you shop at. The odds are pretty good that those stores will be on Ebates over any other cashback site, with over 1,200 stores offering cashback through Ebates. They are one of the largest and most reputable cashback sites on the net, and they’ve been around for quite some time. When using a cashback site, you want one that won’t fold and go away before you can cash out your money. Another reason why I put Ebates as #1 on my list is that they offer you $5 just for signing up. The payment threshold on Ebates is only $5.01, so all you have to do to get that $5 is make any purchase that gives you cashback using Ebates and you just made $5! Ebates sends out their cash back payments every 3 months on the 15th of February, November, August, and May. The payout rate for all the cashback sites are all pretty even, but for many stores Ebates offers a 1-2% higher cashback rate.
The reason why I put this one at #2 is because they have hundreds of Canadian merchants and they are highly reputable. This is the preferred cashback site for many Canadians and it was one of the first in the Candian market that is still alive. Their rates are competitive with the other cash back sites and one of the main draws to this cashback site over the other is that their payout times are bi-monthly rather than quarterly. Great Canadian Rebates will put $2 into your account when you sign up. The payment threshold is $5 minimum (sign up bonus and referrals do not count towards this value) if you are requesting to be paid via paypal and $20 minimum (sign up and referral bonuses DO count for this) if you would like to be paid by cheque. There is a minimum 45 day wait to get your rebates because they need that time to track returns for purchases and to collect money from the merchants (which is pretty standard for most cashback sites). One of the best features on this site is the “Comparison Shopping” search bar, where you can search for the best price on a given product between all the merchants who are affiliated with Great Canadian Rebates and compare the price and the cashback rate to get the best possible deal.
3) Mr. Rebates
The upside of Mr. Rebates is that it has lots of American merchants as it is one of the most popular cashback sites in the US. The downside is that it only has about 20 Canadian merchants. The reason why I put it at #3 and not last place is that it offers some of the highest cashback rates for many American retailers and I’m sure they will be growing their Canadian merchant list. Mr. Rebates pays $2.50 as their sign up bonus. One downside to Mr. Rebates is the minimum threshold is $10 to get paid via paypal and $25 to get paid by cheque. The up side is that it has over 2000 merchants in total (mostly in the US). The minimum wait time for Mr. Rebates is the longest at 90 days to allow for returns and to collect money from the merchants.
4) Deal Guild
The reason I put Deal Guild at #4 is that it hasn’t been around for that long. It has a wide selection of both Canadian and American merchants. From Dealguild.com “Payments are made on all ‘tracked’ or ‘validated’ amounts in your earnings only after we receive the money from the merchants, which usually takes 2-3 months. At this point we will mark the earnings in your account as ‘received’. Only then will they be payable to you. Payments are normally made automatically starting at the very end of the month. Sometimes payments roll over into the start of the new month. The final payments usually go out by the end of the first week in the new month.” Deal Guild does not give you a sign up bonus. On the upside, Deal Guild is the only cashback site I know of that does not require a minimum payment threshold.